The world community is increasing pressure on Trump and demanding explanation for his racist actions. European news organizations are taking advantage of Trump’s attendance at the World Economic Forum, holding him accountable for inaccurate statements.
Trump said he’d apologize for retweeting a tweet from a far-right British group that featured a video that showed the beating of a Dutch man. The creators of the tweet, Britain First, captioned it as an example of Islamic extremism towards Europeans, claiming that it showed a Muslim man beating up a Dutch boy on crutches.
The video has been removed from Twitter, but Trump’s retweet was quickly embraced by racists, namely notorious white supremacist David Duke:
Trump retweets video of crippled white kid in Europe being beaten by migrants, and white people being thrown off a roof and then beaten to death, He's condemned for showing us what the fake news media WON'T. Thank God for Trump! That's why we love him!
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) November 29, 2017
Critics quickly discovered that the events depicted in the video were grossly mischaracterized in the tweet’s caption. Apparently, Donald Trump simply retweeted this video without researching its validity.
When confronted with the truth about the video, the Trump administration was unrepentant. White House Press Secretary admitted that the video was not an example of Islamic extremism:
Question on President Trump's retweets this morning: Does it matter if it's a fake video?
Sarah Sanders: "I'm not talking about the nature of the video. I think you're focusing on the wrong thing. The threat is real, and that's what the President is talking about." pic.twitter.com/Nh2YyuLD01
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 29, 2017
In an interview with a British news station, Trump was directly confronted with his actions.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 26, 2018
The interviewer, Piers Morgan, asks:
‘Given the amount of offense it caused, do you regret those retweets and do you wish, with hindsight, you hadn’t done it?’
Trump refuses to answer the clear question, instead reasserting that it indeed depicted radical Islamic terrorism (a false claim):
‘It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror.’
Morgan interrupts, calling Trump out on the repeated lies:
‘They were unverified videos. At least one of them was not what it seemed.’
Again, Trump deflects:
‘Well they are. I didn’t do it. I didn’t go out. I did a retweet.’
His next defense was that since it was not a big news story in the U.S., it was unnecessary to take responsibility for his action of stoking anti-Islamic sentiment. If fact, this is all news to him! He then goes on and on about his love of the U.K. until Morgan refocuses him on initial question:
‘Can I get an apology just for the retweets?
Trump again feigned ignorance:
‘If you’re telling me these are horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you’ like me to do that. I know nothing about them.’
Although it might not be obvious, this is an example of Trump shirking responsibility. True apologies stem from a personal recognition of a mistake, which then leads them to desire to make it right. Trump’s saying that he’ll apologize, but only if someone else wants him to proves that he does not genuinely feel regret or remorse for his actions. He is basically saying, “I don’t think this is wrong, but I will pacify you and apologize if you think I need to.”
Once again pleading ignorance, Trump says:
‘I know nothing about them [the creators of the video]… I know nothing about these people.’
He is lying.
Trump acknowledged the controversy, tweeting at British Prime Minister Theresa May (who had disavowed Trump’s action):
.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
This response to outside forces pointing out his errors is not new. Trump constantly states things he would or would not do, and then refuses to actually follow through.
Sometimes this is used to excuse his bad behavior and attacks on others. The common theme is, “If I weren’t so nice, I would say…” Of course, this is incredibly disingenuous. Either one says something, or one does not say something. Prefacing a critical statement with “this is what I would say” does not negate the actual contents of the statement.
Lastly, Trump reasserts his frequent claim of being:
‘The least racist person that anybody is going to meet.’
The facts don’t support his statement, as his history of racism is well documented. It’s been recently reported that his views have created a hostile environment for his advisor/son-in-law Jared Kushner. This stemmed from his previous antisemitic statements, like this one, reported by The Washington Post:
‘I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.’
His history of racism towards other peoples are even more well known.
The Washington Post reported one of his policy goals:
‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’
(Banning Muslims as a whole is a vastly different issue than banning immigrants from countries where ISIS is operating.)
In a biographical book that Trump was interviewed for, he stated:
‘I think the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that.’
He has maligned Haitians, saying (according to New York Magazine):
‘They all have AIDS.’
Trump has used this exact same excuse for his racist statements several times before. His statement, reported by Axios, in response to criticism of his statements referring to “shithole countries”, is virtually identical to his response to inciting anti-Muslim hatred through his tweet:
‘I’m not a racist. I’m the least racist person you will ever interview.’
Business Insider reports that:
‘President Donald Trump reportedly grew enraged at a June meeting over the amount of visas awarded to travelers from certain countries, grumbling … that the 40,000 Nigerian visitors would never ‘go back to their huts’ in Africa.’
The whole world knows his history of racism. Are they accepting this apology?
Key thing about Trump "apology". He offered to apologise. But he didn't actually apologise.
— (((Dan Hodges))) (@DPJHodges) January 26, 2018
@GMB Trump saying to Piers, “I’ll apologies if you want me to” is not an apology.
— mikeyboy (@mikemeusz1) January 26, 2018
— The Root (@TheRoot) January 26, 2018
Trump came close to apologizing for his Islamophobia Thursday, but instead ended up offering a caricature of regret https://t.co/j3SvkURoQ4
— VICE News (@vicenews) January 26, 2018
Trump…The UK DOES NOT want you in the country…Period. You ARE NOT getting an invite to the Royal Wedding…Period. A STRAIGHT UP APOLOGY was the correct thing to do, months ago, an "offer" of an " apology" now is not…Period.
— Patricia Johnson (@Patricia201791) January 26, 2018
— Otto English (@Otto_English) January 26, 2018
Featured image: Jabin Botsford/Getty